What are the Olympic Games?

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The Olympic Games

Sports enthusiast or not, you’re likely to feel something special in the air when the Olympic Games roll around. Whether you prefer to sit back on the couch and watch runners whiz around the track on TV or you feel compelled to see it all live, the Web sites we’ve collected will help you plan your Olympic experience.

What are the Olympic Games?

Depending on whom you ask, the Olympic games are a celebration of athleticism and sportsmanship, a chance for the world to come together peacefully for competition and camaraderie, or a farce littered with commercialism and drug-abusing athletes—a shadow of what the Games once represented. On the Web, you’ll learn who’s in charge of organizing and standardizing the Games today, and you can get the scoop on the Olympic Movement.

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  • The International Olympic Committee, known as the IOC, is the international, nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization that supervises the organization of the Summer and Winter Games. You’ll see the IOC referenced frequently, along with the term Olympic Movement, which refers to all organizations that follow the IOC’s standards.

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History of the Olympics

Obviously, the Olympics have changed drastically since ancient times—but what was it really like back then? To get a glimpse, or to perform more extensive research of Games past, the Internet is all you’ll need.

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  • You’ll find that Web sites offer slightly different accounts of Olympic history, and sometimes provide different dates. Consult a few sources to get the best overall idea.

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Lists and Rules of Olympic sports

The Games are held in the summer and winter and are characterized by different athletic events, some of which might be considered seasonal, such as ice hockey in the winter. On the Web, you’ll discover more about each of these events, including rules and regulations, official governing bodies, and athlete profiles.

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  • The Olympic Games were held every four years (the length of an Olympiad) until 1992, when the IOC’s decision to hold Games every two years (alternating between summer and winter) went into effect.
  • If you want to enhance your Olympic viewing experience, consider learning as much as you can about a sport or two that you find interesting; when the next Games roll around, you’ll know who and what to watch for, which could raise your excitement level.
  • Although official federations are great sources of information, the Web provides a variety of ways to learn about Olympic sports. Don’t limit yourself to the sites below; reading the news sites we’ve posted at the end of this guide will help you become familiar with recent competitions, athletes, and commentary.
  • In addition to official Olympic sports, there are recognized sports—such as bowling, golf, rugby and surfing—which, although held to IOC standards, are not included in the official Games program. Links to each sport's international governing body are provided in the "ARISF Members" section.
  • The IOC is in charge of a somewhat secretive process of voting sports in and out of the Olympic program. In 2005, baseball and softball were both voted out, and the decision stirred controversy, as discussed in a USA Today article. Here is another article discussing the elimination vote from the Canadian media company CTV’s site.

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News Coverage of the Olympic Games

The next Games are less than a year away, and the Web is already buzzing. We’ve found sites offering comprehensive coverage, including official organizations, credible publications, and sports networks. By summer 2008, you’ll be well-versed in current and archived Olympic news, and may just find yourself on the edge of your seat anticipating the next big moment.

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  • If you’re new to the Games, start with the official Olympic sites, which provide well-rounded coverage of all of the events. You might also consider signing up for an e-mailed newsletter to stay informed.
  • Television networks on the Web such as NBC and ESPN often utilize material from outside sources like the Associated Press and various nationally syndicated newspapers. Take note of the sources of the articles you read, and consult several instead of only one; you’ll get better news coverage and fair commentary.
  • If you want to follow Olympic sports year-round, you may have trouble finding television coverage of less-mainstream events. Visit NBC regularly for updates of events, such as national championships and Olympic trials, for specific sports.

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Blogs and Forums for Olympic Fans

The Olympics are a worldwide event, and the Web can help you participate in a spirited global discussion of the Games by way of blogs and forums. Visit the sites below to question other fans, tell them what you think, and absorb what they have to say about the Olympics. 

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  • The IOC has decided to allow athletes to blog during the Beijing Olympics, though there are many restriction. Athletes may not interview or report on other athletes, post video of Olympic events or use their blogs for commercial gain.
  • To find more Olympics-focused blogs, try a blog search engine like Technorati or BlogPulse. You can search using specific words and phrases, such as “Olympic Games + Judo,” and you can search for full blogs or blog posts.

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Planning a Trip to the See the Olympics

Live athletic competition is thrilling, and the Olympics are no exception. On the Web, you can plan a trip to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Games or even get an early start planning for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. You’ll learn how to purchase tickets, and discover alternative ways to attend the festivities such as volunteering.

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  • A live sale of remaining Olympics tickets began in October on a first-come, first-serve basis. For further clarification, see the FAQ page provided by CoSport, the official site for Olympic ticket and accommodation sales in the United States.
  • Consider packages that include tickets and accommodation; some even provide meals, transportation to events, and tours of Beijing. The sites below present some options to help you find a plan suiting your needs.
  • Other ways to attend the Games include volunteering and participating in the torch relay, both of which are typically difficult gigs to get if you’re not a resident of the host country. Getting a job with the torch relay in particular is quite competitive; you’ll have to go through a strict nomination and selection process. See the official torch site for further information.

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Competing in the Olympics

Ah, to compete in the Olympics—the prestige, the pride, the pain. Yes, pain. It’s not easy, by any means, to reach the skill level of an Olympic athlete. Physiology, training, nutrition, and mental strength all play a part in your success or failure. To learn more about what it takes (and whether you have it) consult these sites. You’ll find general advice and training information to help get you started on the arduous road to Olympic glory. If you decide to sink back into the couch and just watch instead, that’s fine, too.

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  • Consult the official federation Web site for your chosen sport. You’ll find information about competitions, athletes, coaches, and upcoming events. Olympic.org, the official site of the Olympic Movement, provides links to sports federation Web sites.
  • Most Olympic athletes begin training at a very young age. However, there are endurance events, such as the marathon, that are led by older athletes. If you are 28 years old and want to be a gymnast, for example, your chances are rather slim. If you are considering a triathlon, however, you can likely train and improve, regardless of your age.
  • This New York Times article reveals the successes of older, more experienced female runners versus their younger counterparts.
  • If you want to train for the Olympics but are concerned about fitting it into your work schedule, Home Depot may be able to help. The company is the world leader in employing Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls. You can learn more on the company’s Web site.

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